Choir's new song to help family of Lauren Fitzgerald raise £234k for cancer treatment in US
A song has been recorded to help raise funds for a 14-year-old Co Down girl who desperately needs cancer treatment in America.
Lauren Fitzgerald, from Newry, described as "bubbly and upbeat", has been battling cancer for almost a year after being diagnosed with stage four high-risk neuroblastoma last July.
The brave teenager has already endured extensive treatment to get her into remission and, amazingly, her latest scans came back clear.
But neuroblastoma, which is an aggressive and complex cancer to treat, has a strong likelihood of returning according to experts - and if this happens the survival rate is very low.
That's why Lauren's family is fundraising with Solving Kids' Cancer in order to raise £234,000 by September so she can receive a vaccine in New York that's showing promise in reducing the chances of relapse.
And now The Choir Studio in Newry is trying to help them achieve their goal by selling their new CD Put a Little Love in Your Heart for a small donation of less than a pound.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph last night, studio owner Kathy McCaughey said they deliberately chose an uplifting song "to reflect Lauren's bubbly personality".
"When I found out about Lauren I just wanted to do something to help her," she said.
"So we all put our heads together in the studio and came up with the idea of recording a special single for her and it's been great because it's been so popular so far."
She added: "The song had 21,5000 views on our Facebook page shortly after we put it up and it occurred to me that if every person who listened to it had downloaded it, her campaign would have been over £20,000 better off."
Kathy (36), who has two daughters Evie (6) and five-year-old Elyse, with husband Steven added: "It's 99p on Amazon Music or 79p on iTunes.
"It'll not break the bank."
Lauren, who began chemotherapy within days of her diagnosis last year, spoke of her sorrow after she was told about the extent of her illness and how it would affect her life for ever.
"On July 3, 2018, my life changed," she wrote on her appeal page.
"After 10 days in hospital, I was diagnosed with stage four high-risk neuroblastoma.
"Doctors told me I had a tumour on my adrenal gland and the cancer had spread to my bones and bone marrow.
"I felt frightened and upset about what this meant.
"The doctor told me my treatment would last for a whole year.
"I would not be able to go to school and see my friends, I was so sad I didn't understand how this could happen."
During the first 80 days the Sacred Heart pupil had eight cycles of chemotherapy with extremely tough side-effects.
She then had a seven-hour surgery to remove the primary tumour, which was followed by high-dose chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant involving 21 days in an isolation room.
In February, Lauren also completed 14 days of radiotherapy.
The song Put a Little Love in Your Heart was recorded by around 55 people from The Uplifted Gospel Choir (adults) and The Shining Light Gospel Choir (children), as well as other local talent.
Well-known Newry names that feature on the CD include Leon McCrum, a retired backing vocalist who has performed with country star Daniel O'Donnell and Belfast hero Van Morrison, as well as Blues singer Elish McCaffrey and Jazz singer Alison McGrath.
The only male voice on the track is Blues singer Raynie McEvoy, who, like everyone else, "jumped at the opportunity to be involved" when Kathy asked.
The Choir Studio boss added a special thanks to her colleagues Mark and Gareth Hughes "for doing the biggest job in the recording studio and involves mixing and editing it".
To help Lauren, visit The Choir Studio's Facebook page and download the song. You can also read about Lauren's cancer battle and make a donation to her appeal by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or click here.